On Feb. 3, 2016, a chase began. This chase wasn’t for a person, but for Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and Graduate and Professional Student Government (GPSG) records. Records that are supposed to be accessible to the student body and public are not being filed as directed by the student government constitutions, resulting in a lack of transparency and accountability.
Per the USG constitution, (Title III, Section 305,) the USG secretary:
Shall maintain a copy of all Senate, student organization or council, and USG Committee and
board proposals, resolutions, bills, amendments, and minutes; shall date and number these items and shall maintain a file of these items in the USG office for the use of the Senate and IUPUI community.
The GPSG constitution uses similar language.
While records had been submitted to the university archives in the past, staff at the archives said there were no records for either government from Feb. 7, 2013, onward. Stephen Towne, Associate University Archivist, confirmed by email that no records have been submitted by USG or GPSG since then. Towne also said that he has requested records from USG and GPSG representatives but has not received any for three years.
After visiting the archives, both USG Treasurer Joshua Carmichael and USG Secretary Alisha Jongeling advised that the USG records from February 2013 onward could be found on The Den or on the USG website, which Jongeling reaffirmed by email.
An exhaustive search of both The Den and the USG website turned up only incomplete records. Some senate meeting minutes, some executive meeting minutes, and the current year’s budget were available. However, there are significant periods of time with no records at all.
Jongeling consistently maintained that these records could be found online and has not responded to an email request for the missing records from February 2014 to September 2015.
A search for GPSG records yielded similar results. Neither the GPSG website nor The Den contained a full set of records. The constitution and a few resolutions from the 2015-2016 academic year were all there was to be found.
In response to an email request for the missing records, GPSG Secretary and Editor of The Graduate Maria Lesch (née Harlan) said via email that the GPSG was gathering all of their current and past records, including budgets, and that she would be unable to provide all of the records until Apr. 1.
Jacob Balkos, a former member of GPSG who served two years as representative for the School of Dentistry, firmly believes that GPSG President Tony Greco is part of the problem.
“It’s the ‘Tony Greco Show,’” Balkos said. “He’s been there long enough and he started early enough when the organization was truly in shambles that anything would be an improvement. But he’s built a castle around himself, metaphorically speaking. He’s surrounded himself by [sic] his people.”
In the fall of 2012, Greco became Undergraduate Student Government president. The next year he was elected IUPUI’s Graduate and Professional Student Government president, a position he has held three terms in a row.
Before Greco’s stint as USG president, records had been submitted to the archives and posted online; but during his first term, they stopped. Prior to Greco’s time as GPSG president, records had been submitted to the archives but have not been submitted during his three terms nor posted online. During USG President Niki DaSilva’s two terms in the position, records have never been submitted.
In a phone interview, Student Supreme Court Chief Justice Eliut Justus said that Greco’s presidency and the halting of records submissions could be connected, but that it could be a matter of “post hoc ergo proctor hoc.”
The advisor to both student governments and the namesake of the GPSG Jason T. Spratt Scholarship, Jason Spratt, denied an in-person interview request due to “time constraints.” Instead he sent responses to questions via the Director of Strategic Communications, Margie Smith-Simmons.
When asked about the lack of USG records per the constitution, Spratt referred me back to the email exchange with Jongeling.
Regarding the apparent violations of the GPSG constitution, he wrote, “All student organizations experience some degree of change in leadership from year to year. Sometimes the entire executive board of an organization may change.”
Again, Greco has been president of USG or GPSG for four years in a row. In addition, DaSilva has been president of USG for the last two years.
Spratt wrote that he meets with both DaSilva and Greco in person or by phone every week. He then directed me to this list of general advisor duties to learn more about what he does.
“Student leaders in both organizations know the location of my office and can stop by to see me if I am free or make an appointment if they have questions or need guidance,” he wrote about his availability to students.
While Spratt maintained he was available to students for guidance, Balkos said that during his own involvement in student government, GPSG has lacked oversight.
“What Jeff [Valliere, current School of Dentistry representative] and I have set out as our major goal the past couple years is to increase accountability, and by enforcing a paper trail with minutes and Robert’s Rules you can do that, in theory,” Balkos said. He was quick to add that he doesn’t believe the executive board’s decisions are made maliciously, only that they lack guidance and accountability for most of what occurs. He called the GPSG’s disorganization a “recurring theme.”
During our phone conversation, I asked Chief Justice Justus what would be the Court’s response should it be found that they were in violation of the constitutions.
Justus clarified, only members of USG or GPSG could petition the Court to look into potential misconduct in student governance.
However, when asked for his opinion about whether the Court should receive a complaint regarding records not being provided, he replied, “That would be very concerning.”